4K Is Officially the Next Dumb Format War

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If your bank account has left you unaware of the state of the 4K movement, here's a fun surprise: if you buy a 4K movie from Sony, you'll need a Sony television to play it back. If you buy one from Samsung, you'll need a Samsung TV to view it. Which means that what should be a fiesta for your eyes has turned into just another proprietary pain in the ass.

As Geoffery Morrison points out in a piece on CNET:

What would have happened if, in the early days of DVD, you could only buy discs that worked with your brand of television? How quickly would you have upgraded, knowing that to watch your two favorite movies you'd need to buy two different televisions, and two different DVD players?


Despite the many format wars we've had in the past, it seems like companies just don't learn. They're either too dumb, or too arrogant or both. Sony, in particular, has a long tradition of foisting proprietary formats on users and then sending them to their graves when they just don't work out (MemorySticks, Mini Disc, the Reader e-book reader that made it impossible to load your own content onto it, Betamax, the DAT... Sony's list of proprietary failures is endless).

Samsung is no stranger to this game too. The company's latest Gear Fit smartwatch works only with certain phones in its Galaxy range of devices. And Bada, its proprietary smartphone platform, was phased out in favor of Tizen.

Locking down formats in the hope that consumers will embrace them willy-nilly is the worst kind of corporate hubris. If we're paying thousands of dollars to watch 4K in the first place, at least let us watch what we want where we want. [CNET]